Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his intention to prorogue Parliament at the end of August, meaning Parliament won’t reopen until October 14.
For most of the five-week period, Parliament would not have been sitting anyway — it was due to be suspended for party conference season, returning in the second week of October. So Johnson’s prorogation would have only added a handful of days to the length of time MPs are away.
The PM said the suspension was needed to make way for a new Queen’s Speech — the way in which a new session of Parliament begins. Normally, a Queen’s Speech takes place every year, and Parliament is always prorogued before it is reopened by the monarch.
Johnson’s opponents have claimed he is shutting down Parliament to stifle debate, and to allow the clock to run down on Brexit.
The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow — whose role is traditionally impartial — said it was “blindly obvious” Johnson was attempting to limit debate over Brexit with the move.
“Shutting down Parliament would be an offense against the democratic process and the rights of Parliamentarians as the people’s elected representatives,” Bercow said in a statement.
Johnson has repeatedly insisted he will allow Britain to exit the EU with no deal on October 31 — but the majority of lawmakers are opposed to that idea, and have been working to block it.
A handful of legal attempts to overturn the prorogation have failed, allowing it to take place as planned.